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February 13, 2007

Whacking Dandelions

Chris Van Dyk, of Citizens for More Important Things, who led the fight against Seattle's giveway to the Sonics, recently sent the following email, which is a great summary of the current situation with the Sonics and NASCAR in the state legislature.

It's particularly disappointing to see otherwise progressive Democrats like Hans Dunshee, who has been a hero to the environmental community, lining up behind environmentally destructive and fiscally irrational boondoggles like a NASCAR racetrack.

More below the fold.


Subject: Alert & Update from Citizens for More Important Things: Pro-sports Arenas Grow Like Dandelions

Working on the stadium issue is like weeding dandelions. Sometimes, it seems there are more and bigger dandelions no matter what you do. There is no rational explanation. They just appear.

State Senator Margarita Prentice has proposed, for Renton or Bellevue, at a cost of $300 million or so to taxpayers, a new $500 million arena for the Sonics. This despite the legislature having turned down the Sonics request, two years in a row, for $200 million. Despite Seattle voters giving 75% approval to I-91. Despite statewide polls showing 80% opposition to any subsidy. Does Senator Prentice think they were turned away, then, just so we could give them even more tax subsidies, now?

But Senator Prentice is chair of Senate Ways and Means, so regardless how illogical, what she thinks matters. On Tuesday, February 13, 3:30 pm, Clayton Bennett, billionaire Oklahoma owner of the Sonics, will try to justify to Senator Prentice’s Ways and Means Committee why he needs your tax dollars to build his Sonics a palatial gymnasium in Renton. This meeting is billed as a public hearing, so if you can possibly make it, please, be there, sign up, and speak out. If there are enough of us, there are other Senators on Ways & Means who do understand this issue, and they will certainly appreciate our support. If we are not there, anything can happen. If you can’t make it, send an email to your legislators, and the Governor. The list is below. Remember the dandelions.

Likewise, on Tuesday, February 20, 6:00pm, the House Finance Committee is holding a hearing on NASCAR’s bid for $145 million for a speedway on Hood Canal in Kitsap County. This proposal is an environmental disaster, and with respect to tax subsidies, it makes Clayton Bennett and the Sonics look, well, reasonable. For $145 million, the facility will be used for two—that’s right, two—races per year. You’d think Washington State government had extra cash to throw around. Talk about dandelions. We thought we had stopped NASCAR at Kitsap County government, but Rep. Geoff Simpson and Rep. Hans Dunshee have engineered an end-around local control with HB 2062. (One of the ironies is that HB 2062 is touted as a jobs bill—but it exempts construction from having to pay prevailing wages.) NASCAR is planning a legislative circus—race cars and race car drivers at the hearing--so if you can, please, be there with your voices of reason! Another point--because the area of Hood Canal where NASCAR wants to build does not have sewage systems or sewage treatment plants, most of the 80,000 spectators will be using Sani-Cans and Porta-Potties to do their business. A few Kitsap residents have suggested having the work-product be shipped to Representatives Dunshee and Simpson for further processing.

Lastly, please remember us with your pocketbook. We need contributions to fund our lobbying effort. It takes time and people to maintain a presence in Olympia—and believe me, the Sonics and NASCAR have plenty of both. (At last count, between them, they had six lobbyists.) We rely on you to write letters and emails, do research, and talk to reporters. We keep the issues alive in the media, and with a bit of cash, buy advertising. Every dollar helps. $200 tells 10,000 people on KIRO radio to call or email their legislators. Otherwise, all they will hear from are those who stand to benefit—the panhandling billionaire sports owners of the world. With your help, we can keep those dandelions weeded out of Washington’s gardens. (Mostly, it is a matter of just getting good economic information, good research, in front of our legislators. But that does take time, and having time takes money.) So, please help.

Many thanks for your support.

Chris Van Dyk & Mark Baerwaldt, Co-Chairs

Citizens for More Important Things

PO Box 4473

Seattle, WA 98194




Dunshee.Hans@leg.wa.gov; Fromhold.Bill@leg.wa.gov; Chase.Maralyn@leg.wa.gov; OBrien.Al@leg.wa.gov; Sells.Mike@leg.wa.gov; Ormsby.Timm@leg.wa.gov; Sullivan.Brian@leg.wa.gov; Takko.Dean@leg.wa.gov; Ericks.Mark@leg.wa.gov; McCoy.John@leg.wa.gov; Pettigrew.Eric@leg.wa.gov; Williams.Brendan@leg.wa.gov; Orcutt.Ed@leg.wa.gov; Strow.Chris@leg.wa.gov; Curtis.Richard@leg.wa.gov; Haler.Larry@leg.wa.gov; Hankins.Shirley@leg.wa.gov; Armstrong.Mike@leg.wa.gov; Chandler.Bruce@leg.wa.gov; Bailey.Barbara@leg.wa.gov


hasegawa.bob@leg.wa.gov; orcutt.ed@leg.wa.gov; condotta.cary@leg.wa.gov; conway.steve@leg.wa.gov; ericks.mark@leg.wa.gov; mcintire.jim@leg.wa.gov; roach.dan@leg.wa.gov; santos.sharon@leg.wa.gov; hunter.ross@leg.wa.gov


prentice.margarita@leg.wa.gov; fraser.karen@leg.wa.gov; pridemore.craig@leg.wa.gov; zarelli.joseph@leg.wa.gov; brandland.dale@leg.wa.gov; carrell.michael@leg.wa.gov; fairley.darlene@leg.wa.gov; hatfield.brian@leg.wa.gov; hewitt.mike@leg.wa.gov; hobbs.steve@leg.wa.gov; honeyford.jim@leg.wa.gov; keiser.karen@leg.wa.gov; kohl-welles.jeanne@leg.wa.gov; oemig.eric@leg.wa.gov; parlette.linda@leg.wa.gov; rasmussen.marilyn@leg.wa.gov; regala.debbie@leg.wa.gov; roach.pam@leg.wa.gov; rockefeller.phil@leg.wa.gov; schoesler..mark@leg.wa.gov;tom.rodney@leg.wa.gov

Posted by Jon Stahl on February 13, 2007 at 08:23 AM in Policy, Taking Action | Permalink


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